Dear RV Shrink:
My husband and I have been reading your column for about a year. We are almost ready to retire and travel. We have decided on a small, diesel, Sprinter Class C motorhome with a couple of slides. The short, expandable unit we ordered seems perfect for travel. The problem is the addition of a tow vehicle.
I think we should pull a small car and my husband says it defeats the whole purpose of staying small and agile. He says the Sprinter chassis is small enough and fuel efficient enough to drive 100% of the time. I contemplate the inconvenience to uprooting our home on wheels every time we go sightseeing, shopping or out to diner. My husband continues to argue the economic side of this issue. We enjoy your input, so could you please give us some insight on this issue? —To tow or not to tow in Tucson
This is one of those issues where one size does not fit all. Pulling a toad is a personal decision. If you’ve read this column for a while you probably know my reaction already.
On an economic basis it would be cheaper to haul a tow vehicle. It is simple math. Most people will put three times the mileage on their toad as they will on the mother ship. Just in fuel savings, this should make your decision. You can also add accelerated depreciation on your new motorhome as you rack up miles that could be allotted to your toad.
The convenience issues are pretty apparent. If your husband is concerned about pulling a second vehicle, he should talk to the many people that do. A towed vehicle tracks effortlessly behind a motorhome, it’s quick and simple to unhook, and it puts a very small dent in towed mileage.
Here is an example of what you will experience once you get on the road. Awhile ago we were in Moab, Utah. It is impossible to camp in Arches National Park (a reservation-only campground) unless you make a reservation six months in advance. Some campgrounds are first-come, first-served. It is as much as a 100-mile round-trip into the Canyonlands National Park campground to see if there is a space available. It reminds me of the famous Clint Eastwood quote, “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
Most people, like us, end up camping in one of the many BLM campgrounds in the area and taking excursions into the parks. We end up putting over 100 miles per day on our toad. The viewpoint parking lots are jammed with traffic and tight. Often we can’t even find a parking spot for our small Saturn, let alone a small motorhome.
Not everyone travels the same way. If you are constantly on the move, a single vehicle may work out just fine, but consider all the facts before you make a decision. You can always put the decision off until you have a few miles under your belts. A few shakedown trips will change your perspective on many aspects of RV travel. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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